Artist explores racial injustice through monologues

first_imgAs part of the annual Margaret M. Hill Endowed Visiting Artist performance, Anna Deavere Smith gave a lecture and performance titled “From Rodney King to Michael Brown: The Narrative of Ferguson,” in which she performed monologues from her first play, “Twilight: Los Angeles,” and her most recent project on the school-to-prison pipeline — the practices that push at-risk youth out of schools and into the criminal justice system.Professor of Theatre Katie Sullivan introduced Smith. She said Smith was the first visiting artist when the endowment began in 2006, so it was appropriate to invite her back for the 10th anniversary, especially in light of recent racial tensions in America.“As we have watched our country struggle with racial division and inequality once again these last two years — from Ferguson to Baltimore, and Cleveland, and then Chicago — it seemed a good time to hear from [Smith] again,” Sullivan said. “She has the wonderful capacity to engage in conversations and ultimately to listen carefully to everyone as she carves out space for us to understand each other on complex and distressing national issues that involve us all politically, racially and culturally.”Smith said she travels around the country and interviews different people who were involved in or who witnessed different racial injustices.“My grandfather told me when I was a girl, ‘If you say a word often enough, it becomes,’” Smith said. “For the last many years, I’ve been going around America with a tape recorder trying to become America word for word by repeating what people say and putting myself in other people’s words, the way you would put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”Smith said the excerpts from her plays focused on law enforcement and education. She said she would perform pieces from her play from 1992 and from her most recent play to show how tensions have not necessarily changed over the years.“One of the things that plagues America from time to time is the relationship between law enforcement and individuals,” Smith said. “ … We also haven’t really gotten over the sort of chasm between social classes and races, which means some people are left outside of opportunity.”According to Smith, her first play focused on the riots that ensued after the killing of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers was captured on film and spread worldwide. Similarly, her most recent play focuses on the riots that ensued after the killing of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police officers was captured with a smartphone camera and broadcasted to the world. Smith performed as Stanley Sheinbaum, Elaine Young, Cornel West, Keith Godfrey, Kevin Moore and Michael Tubbs — all people she had interviewed — to illustrate the experiences of people who have been pushed to the edges of society.“I want to look at this because it’s sort of remarkable that it keeps happening,” Smith said. “The question is: Are there things that we here in this room … can do in our own lives to keep things from happening?”She said her performances are not about the police officers, citing a speech by President Barack Obama in which he said fixing the problem does not start with trying to fix the officers.“This is really a problem of poverty,” Smith said. “It’s a problem of who is left behind. The cops in many ways are here for all of us — including me — to protect us against the possibility that those who are disenfranchised will harm us, our property or our loved ones. They are in the trenches to protect us, so we need to get it together and do something about this gap that we have.”Tags: Anna Deavere Smith, Ferguson, Margaret M. Hill Endowed Visiting Artist, race, Rodney Kinglast_img read more

Saint Mary’s launches Master of Autism Studies program

first_imgIn 2018, Saint Mary’s will introduce new graduate program, a Master of Autism Studies. Although students cannot begin their coursework until 2019, the program will begin accepting applications and hosting workshops this calendar year. “Everyone knows about the critical need for understanding and responding to autism in the world today,” Michael Waddell, program director, said in an email. “The Master of Autism Studies program responds to this need by examining autism from scientific, therapeutic and humanistic perspectives.”The first proposal for the program was submitted in the spring of 2011, Waddell said. This program speaks to the values of Saint Mary’s and specifically a Holy Cross education, said Susan Latham, a Master of Autism Studies faculty member and program director of the Master of Science in speech language pathology program.“I think it’s important that this is happening at Saint Mary’s because we are Holy Cross. And Holy Cross means that we are educating our students in a way that reflects the way that Fr. Moreau envisioned our work happening,” Latham said. “So for example, one characteristic of Holy Cross educators is respect for the individual in that we don’t concern ourselves with only the mind but also the heart, and that really speaks to our values and how we approach families with whom we work.” Waddell said that throughout their time in the program, students will study autism in relation to both intervention approaches as well as other subjects.“The Master of Autism Studies program will provide the interdisciplinary, autism-specific expertise students need to become leaders in autism-related fields,” he said. “Unlike other programs, the Master of Autism Studies will introduce students to the full range of evidence-based autism interventions, including — but not limited to — behavioralist approaches. And it will do all of these things in conversation with the Catholic tradition.”Waddell said the program looks beyond just the science and examines the intersection of autism with the humanities.“Autism therapies are important because, when done well, they can improve the quality of life of people who live with autism,” he said. “And, of course, in order to provide the best autism therapies, you have to understand the science of autism. But autism is about more than a diagnosis and treatment.  It affects every dimension of life. That’s why it’s important to think about autism from humanistic perspectives too.”In these humanities courses, students will study autistic art and literature, as well as take into account how philosophical, theological, political and legal lenses can aid in the understanding of autism, Waddell said. “The humanities courses in the autism studies program help us to think about autism as more than a diagnosis and treatment — to understand that autism shapes the lives and identities of human beings and is giving rise to a distinctive culture,” he said. “This is the only program I know of that takes such a broad approach to thinking about autism as part of the human experience.”This specific approach is unique to Saint Mary’s. Most other programs across the nation look solely at the scientific aspects, and the holistic approach taken in this program is “visionary,” Latham said.“There aren’t other programs like this,” she added. “This is sort of groundbreaking, in having this degree being offered. It’s nice to know that right here, on this campus, we are creating something and are really passionate about something that I feel is visionary, that is not what everybody is doing.”The program brings together faculty and faculty fellows who are experts in various aspects of autism studies, Waddell said. “Every person teaching in the program has a significant interest in autism and brings a special kind of expertise to the table,” he said. “In my personal opinion, the quality of the faculty and fellows is one of the greatest strengths of the program. I want to take every course my colleagues will be teaching.”On March 2, the program will host its first workshop. Waddell said workshops will be focused on intervention techniques, sometimes offering an opportunity for certification.“The autism intervention workshops bring world-renowned experts to campus to provide training in state-of-the-art autism interventions,” he said. “… We strive to represent the full range of evidence-based interventions rather than just limiting ourselves to one particular approach, as happens in many programs.”Waddell said that many of the workshops offer students and community members the opportunity to achieve valuable certification in intervention methods at little to no cost. The upcoming one will be cosponsored by the Master of Autism Studies program, the Communicative Sciences and Disorders department and LOGAN Community Resources. It is free and open to all, as long as participants register online prior to the workshop. “This is the sort of thing that students can list on resumes and professionals can use to maintain licensure,” Waddell said. “The training would cost a lot of money for students and community members if they pursued it on their own, but it’s being offered for free in our workshops through the financial support of sponsors.”Latham looks forward to sharing her passion for autism studies to both the community through workshops and through teaching, she said. “It’s really encouraging to me to know that there are people that think that there is value in this as a graduate study and that they have that same level of compassion and concern for individuals on the autism spectrum,” she said. Tags: Autism, Holy Cross, Master of Autism Studieslast_img read more

Murray upbeat despite France stalemate

first_img The Irish still have a chance of finishing with the wooden spoon when they face Italy in Rome on the final day of the championship having drawn 13-13 with France. Frustratingly, they have been in a position to win the last three matches despite contending with an ever-lengthening injury list, only to throw it away. “I don’t think people need to freak out. There’s no issue of confidence within the team. We’re not getting smashed by teams and are creating opportunities,” the Munster scrum-half said. “We wanted to come out this week and give a good performance. I think we did that.” He added: “We’re creating a lot, we’re controlling games and we’re controlling territory. “It’s little things like when we needed to keep the scoreboard ticking over in the second half and we probably would have kicked on again. I can’t put my finger on why we didn’t do that. There’s no need to panic. “After the first half we didn’t feel comfortable exactly but we were in a good place.” Ireland led 13-3 by half-time and were in total control, only for France to dominate the final quarter. “It is a disappointment, to a degree, but then France could have scored a try at the end and we could be standing here after a defeat,” Murray said. “It’s not quite like a defeat but it is disappointing the way the draw happened. We were ahead all game and they levelled it quite late.” Conor Murray insists Ireland must take heart from their performances in the RBS 6 Nations, even if results have left them battling at the wrong end of the table.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more